37 The Silence of a Guilty Conscience*
Phillip stared through the bars of Cordon's only prison cell with immense sadness. Since they'd chained his wrists to the rings on opposite walls and fastened the mask over his face, Rassa had been still and silent. That had been last night. Now, the morning after, when the town had had enough time to at least take in what had happened, Phillip had come to tell his son what they planned to do.
But what exactly could he say? Had it been Rassa that had done those things last night, or had it been something else? Something much more evil...
The truth was, Phillip was horrified. After living with Rassa and his condition for three years, he had made himself believe that a reality where Rassa was anything but a boy with a different appetite was completely possible. He'd been living it, and would continue to live it. When he'd seen his son attack Jane, his best friend since they were old enough to understand what that relationship meant, Phillip had been dumbfounded. That...thing...it was not his son. Phillip had no idea what it was.
Then the chains had wrapped around Rassa, and he'd fallen to the ground in pain, the red glow fading to his ordinary dark eyes and Phillip had seen nothing but guilt and remorse. Phillip had understood in that moment that Rassa had let that thing out. He'd submitted when he promised he wouldn't, and 48 people had paid the consequences for it. And not just people, Knights, highly trained knights. The only surviving witness said it had taken no more than five minutes. That the boy had seemed like a god of war and death. It had been easy for him, so easy he'd appeared bored with it all.
Phillip looked up at his son, his arms were raised out to either side because of the chains, he was kneeling on the ground, his head hung forward with the chains locked together around his upper torso. The skin beneath was an angry red, as if he was indeed allergic to the metal.
Phillip yet again didn't know where to begin. He sighed, rubbing his face and massaging the bridge of his nose. When he looked up once more, his son stared back at him. His dark eyes the only thing that weren't covered by the metal mask, but they expressed everything the boy wanted to say.
It was as if his son had just told him, 'It's okay, father. I know what I did, just tell me what you need to say'.
Phillip felt his eyes well with tears as he looked away. He wiped his eyes quickly then took a breath before he spoke.
"Total body count was 48. They're currently collecting identification to send back to the families. Unfortunately we don't have the facilities required to prepare so many for transport back, so we're preparing pyres to send their ashes back instead. The village is shaken...to say the least. They're demanding your head, but the Baron will wait for the Light Magician to show up seeing as the surviving Knight stated you seemed possessed...were you possessed?"
Rassa neither shook his head nor nodded, simply stared back as if to say, 'Does it matter now?'.
Phillip sighed again, "Jane...she hasn't woken up yet but the Doc says that physically she's fine. She's just sleeping off the effects of establishing her Life Lines. We won't know for sure until the Light Magician shows up but she seems to have awakened as a Wind Magician. She'll be sent to the Academy without delay".
Beyond relieved that Jane was okay, Rassa didn't reveal anything else in his expression, after a moment of silence from Phillip, Rassa's head dropped once more.
Phillip looked down at the dark and dirty paved stone floor as well, and sighed deeply, "I...I'm so sorry, Rassa. I...There's nothing I can do".
There was no response from his son, but Phillip knew his son was smart. Rassa had likely already reached his conclusion.
"If I'm honest I...I didn't believe you'd ever become like that. You're just a child. You have such a kind soul. You...what happened can't have changed that in you. It hasn't...right?"
Phillip looked up at his son for an answer. But Rassa didn't move nor respond. In that moment, Phillip had his answer. Rassa had no clue. He had no idea if he could stay the way he'd always been, or if this would inevitably change him. Phillip dropped his head.
"I see," he replied, "Well then...despite it all Rassa. I really do wish you the best. Because whatever path you are forced to take from now on, I very much doubt I will have any kind of position in your life. After all that has happened, I doubt you will allow your mother and I to try for fear of harming us. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through but...I understand that much. Take care, my son. And after all you have said and hoped for, my hope for you is that you do not spend your life in the shadows. However long that life will be".
Phillip could remain no longer, and he left the cell without delay. Rassa continued to remain silent as he listened to his father's retreating footsteps, somehow knowing it was the last time he'd ever hear them.
This was the right thing though. He had no other choice. After what had happened last night...Rassa needed time. If he was to die then so be it, but Rassa doubted that would be the case. There were too many interested parties outside of Cordon now. So, with the assumption being that he would live, Rassa needed to find a way to practice control. To learn his limits and strengthen his will so that what happened the night before would not happen again. So that he wouldn't loose control again to the monster than possessed him. So that every move he made, and every life he took or didn't take was his own choice.
How better to do that than from within the confines of Anthrite Chains? The very thing the monster within him despised.
Yo, writing this here because the normal author's note section only allows me to write so much.
First of all, thank you for your ongoing support, I truly do appreciate it. Second, I feel the need to address some concerns regarding storyline holes/skewed character development. This is quite literally the first draft of this story. I am writing it as it comes to mind and as I want the story line to go in general. I also have not physcially written down any form of plan. This may sound like a stupid thing to do to some people, but I have found in the past that if I plan out a book that I'm writing, I tend to abandon it quite quickly because essentially, now I know what's going to happen so I'm bored of it. I don't want that to happen with this story, hence why plot holes may appear. As I have mentioned before, when I have finished writing this first draft, I will go back to edit and fix these plot holes to the best of my ability to a point where I am happy with it. No major storyline occurences will change, but some developments to do with individual characters may be more clearly laid out so that it makes more sense as to why the characters make certain decisions (such as Rassa allowing himself to be captured/starved etc.). If it disturbs some people that this is the way I write, I would advise that they stop reading now and come back when I begin the second volume. I estimated that this first volume will be between 70 and 90 chapters, depending on how much I choose to focus on Jane's story as well. I hope that clears up at least in part some concerns of my audience. In future, chapters that are edited shall have a (*) symbol attached to the front of the chapter name. I ask for your understanding in this and appreciate any continued support of my work.